Cut for Pros
Written by Lorre Fritchy | Posted by: Anonymous
Who knew the Big Dig was handing out raffle tickets? Well, if you’re one of the several hundred people showing up at MIT for in-depth discussions of digital filmmaking, editing, and Final Cut Pro, you already have tickets in hand. This particular Big Dig is actually the nickname given to the monthly drawing of software, hard drives, and other electronic goodies raffled off at the new and vastly popular Final Cut Pro users group in Boston (BOSFCPUG, or "Bossy Pug" as organizers have affectionately dubbed it).
After hosting an overflowing crowd of interested folks at their first meeting only a couple months ago, BOSFCPUG has leaped to being the 2nd largest Final Cut Pro users group, officially recognized by Apple.
It didn’t just form out of desire but out of demand, says the group’s enthusiastic creator, Daniel Berube. "I was already presenting Final Cut Pro, Digital Studio Pro, and people were always asking for more and for a user group. We started Bossy Pug and had over 500 members by our third meeting! A good indicator of the buzz factor of digital video on the Mac," he says. "We are in a college town where programs are based on digital video or using tools of digital video for storytelling. My goal is also to help bring students into our users group and give them the opportunity to show their work and network with people in the field."
His 15+ years as a filmmaker led Berube from Emerson College to various aspects of production, to creating streaming video for the popular nonprofit Visionaries program, to working with people who believe in film, video and the Web as powers for good. Once he saw the number of people in Boston trying to tell great stories in an accessible, low-budget way, he knew the timing was right for such a user group. "That whole message Apple puts out, a community helping people to have their voices be heard, is something I can build my conscience on," declares an impassioned Berube. "It’s exciting to me to work with cause-related media. People think that subject is very boring and doesn’t make money, but what other people do to better this world is very exciting."
Collaboration is also an exciting prospect to Berube. BOSFCPUG recently teamed up with Los Angeles and Chicago Final Cut Pro groups for the first multi-group appearance at the massive trade show NAB (National Association of Broadcasters). Berube aims to make these user group piggybacks part of the Bossy Pug norm. "We’re on a path towards building a network of Final Cut Pro user groups," he says. "Not just to support each other but to create more of an awareness of Final Cut Pro as a viable editing system for filmmakers." He is expanding that role because of Boston’s wealth of independent filmmakers involved in a multitude of new media. "We’re not only collaborating with Final Cut Pro user groups, but already talking to other groups like one in Vermont called Wired Women and working with them on some industry events."
Berube insists that although Bossy Pug is founded upon Final Cut Pro as an editing system, the group is adamant about broadening discussions to include digital film and videomaking in general, and that ultimately the group will be whatever the members wish to make it. Member surveys, $5 meeting fees, Question & Answer periods, networking sessions, and the Open Screen time when members can showcase their work, are a few ways Berube maintains his Members First policy.
Sponsors stepped up to the cause, often approaching Berube first, and enabling the group to host such Big Dig raffles with prizes quite valuable, especially to an independent filmmaker. Berube is quick to state that although multiple sponsors are present, "the artist should always win out over the commercialist." He hopes the evaluation of sponsor products and discounts to local services for the group are seen as they are intentioned: not hitting members over the heads with advertising, but instead as a way for members to learn new methods, take advantage of local business, and grow together.
Through BOSFCPUG, a mix of production backgrounds is taken into account. Those established in the production industry get to participate in the community, stay in touch with current trends in their particular field, in digital storytelling, and in the filmmaking process. But it also caters to potential users. Not only educators, students, and newbie filmmakers, but lawyers, doctors and other professionals looking for help using video in their businesses. The group hopes to help all of these people increase their awareness through tips and techniques shared by others.
"The creators we have in Boston now who work in film are starting to make the connection between traditional filmmaking and digital filmmaking," Berube says. "Those are the people we want in our group. There will be more focus on that as more work gets done in digital video." Berube wants to establish Bossy Pug as the go-to user group for learning more, seeing examples, being inspired, and connecting with others. He would like BOSFCPUG to capture the aura of what MacWorld (now held in New York) used to bring to the Boston area: a big event where area professionals could mix knowledge and connections.
"We’re all about the value-for-value exchange," the group leader states. "Collaboration is one of the biggest elements of digital indie filmmaking. Filmmakers are finally starting to understand the digital video mentality." He believes it’s not the same as Hollywood because "you don’t need to spend the additional thousands of dollars like you used to. It’s changing the way you make films," says Berube. "They need to reevaluate how to offer value to people like you and me, who have the DV mentality." He expects Bossy Pug to help facilitate that process.
Long-term hopes for Berube and company involve teaming up with other types of user groups, hosting a film festival, encouraging student mini-chapters of the group, creating a DVD with tips and techniques, and making the Web site an online magazine of tutorials, case studies, and techniques.
Berube sees BOSFCPUG as an editing window to the digital future. "We are especially interested to see how people integrate video and the Web, we want to be part of it," he says. "It’s not a fad or phase — it’s a revolution."
BOSFCPUG meetings are held in the Wong Auditorium on the MIT Campus near Kendall Square in Cambridge, usually on the 3rd Thursday of every month. For $5 you get admission to the 7-10 p.m. knowledgefest, and five raffle tickets for the Big Dig. (If you ask a good question during the meeting, you'll very likely win some other cool prize, too. And bring a notebook. We're talking about practical, usable ideas here, and I must have filled a couple pages just with some serious time-saving Final Cut Pro shortcuts during a shortcut key blitz at the March meeting). Go to http://www.bosfcpug.org to register beforehand so they have an idea of how many attendees to expect, and so Apple continues to see the numbers interested in BOSFCPUG. You can also sign up for an email newsletter by writing to Daniel Berube at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his new media production company, NoisyBrain, at www.noisybrain.com.